The first and only downloadable story content for The Last of Us is here and while it only lasts for a mere two hours, Left Behind manages to give The Last of Us the sending off it deserves and touches upon themes and situations never found before in gaming. The Last of Us: Left behind is an incredible journey from start to finish that will leave a lasting impression on the player.
For those of you who don’t know, I loved The Last of Us and you can read what I thought about it here. My expectations for this DLC were sky high and Naughty Dog managed to raise the bar once again in terms of storytelling and people interaction. Left Behind takes place in two parts of The Last of Us timeline. You play as Ellie, who is one of the main characters in The Last of Us and catalyst for the entire journey in the game. Left Behind is about Ellie’s complex relationship with her long term friend Riley and also Ellie’s father and daughter like relationship with Joel from the original game. The DLC blends these two different timelines perfectly with each of them being thematically different but complementing each other perfectly.
The original game is needed to play Left Behind so I will refrain from giving any spoilers away. Like The Last of Us, Left behind is stunning with environments that have an amazing amount of detail and variability. Facial animation and character models are top class, with excellent voice acting from Ashley Johnson (Ellie) and Yaani King (Riley.) The majority of the DLC takes place in a shopping mall, where Ellie and her friend go to random shops, goofing around like any teenager would do. It is the interaction between the two friends that make the DLC. The developers truly understand the complexity of life as a teenager and all the emotions and feelings young adults go through. In the short space of two hours we see themes of love, friendship, loneliness, sexuality and competitiveness occur between these two friends. Even mundane gameplay mechanics like firing water pistols at each other or playing hide and seek are all excellently executed giving the player a sense that these two girls are just normal teenagers brought up in extraordinary circumstances.
The gameplay mechanics have seen as small change in Left Behind that make sense in the context of the DLC. In The Last Of Us, Joel could take on the infected head on with a shotgun or a Molotov cocktail. Here Ellie would die instantly so instead you have to lure the infected into the human enemies by using sound or distractions. Now Ellie must use bricks or bottles to alert the infected to the humans and then use a pistol or knife to finish off what is left. This is a more realistic gameplay change which I am thankful they created for this DLC. Although this small gameplay change was welcome, I feel that the DLC would have been perfect without combat. The themes and circumstances are so perfectly explored in Left Behind that the combat can sometimes feel tacked on just for the sake of padding the DLC out. Needless to say, the encounters with the human enemies and the infected are as tense and exciting as they used to be.
Left Behind is the perfect prologue to The Last of Us and a fitting end to one of the greatest games of all time. The two hours I spent with Left Behind were full of mixed emotions but that is exactly what the developer set out to achieve. Naughty Dog have created a perfect portrayal of two normal young girls set in extraordinary circumstances. Although the price is steep at €14.99 for two hours gameplay, it is worth the barrier to entry alone just to see what life was like for Ellie before meeting Joel and how would a young girl deal with everyday life in a post apocalyptic America.